Fruits, Vegetables, Teas May Protect Smokers From Lung Cancer

Thursday, May 29th, 2008
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Tobacco smokers who eat three servings of fruits and vegetables per day and drink green or black tea may be protecting themselves from lung cancer, according to a first-of-its-kind study by UCLA cancer researchers. UCLA researchers found that smokers who ingested high levels of natural chemicals called flavonoids, water-soluble plant pigments that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can counteract damage to tissues, in their diet had a lower risk of developing lung cancer, an important finding since more than 90 percent of lung cancers are caused by tobacco smoking. For the UCLA study, researchers looked at 558 people with lung cancer and 837 people who did not have lung cancer and analyzed their dietary history.

  • The flavonoids that appeared to be the most protective included catechin, found in strawberries and green and black teas; kaempferol, found in Brussels sprouts and apples; and quercetin, found in beans, onions and apples.
  • The antioxidant properties found in the flavonoids also may work to counteract the DNA-damaging effects of tobacco smoking, explaining why they affected the development of lung cancer in smokers but not in nonsmokers.

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